No hard shoulder for South Yorkshire’s smart motorway despite increase in fatal accidents

No hard shoulder will be installed on the “smart motorway” strech of the M1 in South Yorkshire – despite the number of fatal collisions increasing since it was implemented.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 9th September 2021, 9:48 am

Rotherham’s MP has slammed a government report into accident blackspots on smart motorways, saying it offers the families of people killed on the roads “no solutions”.

The long-awaited report from National Highways, formerly Highways England, found that the number of serious or fatal injury collisions have increased on the South Yorkshire stretch of the M1 – but only one new emergency refuge will be installed on the Derbyshire border.

The report found that from Junction 32 to Junction 35, the average numbers of collisions per year have decreased since the smart motorway opened, but the number of “serious injury” collisions per year have increased.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion

The number of fatal collisions have also increased from one in three years to three in three years.

It adds that a Rotherham Council scheme to reduce congestion at J33 will be “kept under review”, and one new emergency refuge will be installed between Woodall services and J31 on the Derbyshire – South Yorkshire border.

However, no additional safety refuges will be installed between junctions 32 and 35 – the stretch of road where Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu tragically died in 2019.

Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham, called the report an “insult” to the families of those who have lost their lives on the smart motorway network.

L-R: Jason Mercer and Alexandru Murgeanu died on the M1 smart motorway near Sheffield in June 2019.

“I am appalled that National Highways has failed to commit to real safetyimprovements on this lethal stretch of road,” said Ms Champion.

“Fundamentally, it was the lack of a safe refuge that led to the death of Jason Mercer.

“Despite acknowledging the alarming rise in serious and fatal incidents, none of the measures proposed in the report will address this fatal flaw.

“No additional refuges will be built the hard should will not be returned, and motorists will continue to run huge risks should they break down or beforced to stop.

“The families of victims of these blackspots, including Jason’s widow, Claire, have been expectantly waiting for 18 months for the findings of this report.

“The result is an insult, offering no real answers and no solutions.

“It is high time the Department for Transport listened to bereaved families,campaigners, motorists’ organisations and Members from across the House and abandoned these dangerous, ill thought-out schemes, instead, they seemideologically intent to roll them out, regardless of the known risks they pose.”